Country: Nature Notes

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The Independent Culture
A FOUR-MONTH research project carried out at Rennes University in France has shown conclusively that snails are extremely partial to some brands of paint used for decorating the outside walls of houses.

Maryvonne Charrier, the university's specialist in gastropods, and Martine Le Coz-Bouhnik, a geologist, studied 14 makes of paint, and calculated that 100 escargots sauvages are capable, between them, of eating more than 10lbs in a year.

They found that large snails eat paint without damaging their digestive systems, and indeed prefer certain kinds to their normal diet of vegetation.

The creatures' favourites are those with a strong calcium content, laced with tiny amounts of titanium.

Chlorine-based paints do not appeal to them, but they find iron attractive.

The report has been received with some relief by decorators in Brittany and the Pays de Loire, where house-owners had successfully sued several of them for negligent work.

Mme Charrier is now trying to determine how much mineral and organic content the snails assimilate and the possible effects on human beings when these escargots turn up on their dinner plates.